Enbridge's replacement of Line 3 expected to be approved next week
Reuters is reporting that the federal government will announce the approval of Enbridge's Line 3 Replacement project next week, likely next Tuesday. Line 3 currently runs 1,660 km from Alberta to Wisconsin, but is operating at reduced rates due to pressure restrictions related to the age of the pipeline. Line 3 was originally installed in the 1960s and put into service in 1968, making it almost 50 years old. The new pipe diameter will be expanded from 34 to 36 inches, boosting capacity from the current 390,000 bbl/day to 760,000 bbl/day.
The federal government's approval only applies to the segment on Canadian soil, which runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Gretna, Manitoba. The remaining 300 km, which runs from Neche, North Dakota through the state of Minnesota to its final destination in Superior, Wisconsin still requires state-level permits.
Despite being a cross-border project, Line 3 does not require presidential approval since the line is already in existence and Enbridge is restoring the system to its original capacity. Line 3 faces some opposition in Minnesota, mostly on sections that require river crossings. Enbridge has followed the original routing for most sections but has rerouted some sections of the line between its Clearbrook and Superior Terminals. The project has received relatively little attention in Canada.
Cost estimates for complete replacement are $7.5 billion ($4.9 billion for the Canadian segment and US$2.6 billion for the US portion, to be constructed by subsidiary Enbridge Energy Partners). Line 3 is a “mixed-service” line, carrying a variety of crude streams, including light/sweet blends, heavy/sour crude and upgraded synthetic crude (a light/sweet crude produced through bitumen upgrading). The company thinks the new line could be in service by early 2019 if all approvals are received on time. If completed, Line 3 will be the largest project in Enbridge's history.
As a concession to anti-pipeline groups, the federal Liberals will also release details of their moratorium on crude oil tankers on BC's northern coast, which effectively kills any prospects for Northern Gateway, at least for now.